Burke-Khang Redux

Costa Mesa, Ca.

February 23, 2017

“stubborn” |ˈstəbərn|–having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so; difficult to move, remove, or cure; done or continued in a willful, unreasonable or persistent manner. Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Dear Family & Friends:

I am going back to climb Burke-Khang next month. This time I will be climbing solo. Just me, with Sherpa support. It took me 2 attempts to reach the summit of Mt. Everest from the South side in 2009 and 4 attempts to reach the summit from the more difficult North side in 2014. Burke-Khang is far more technical, difficult and wily than Mt. Everest. So why give up after just 2 attempts? Yes, Burke-Khang kicked my butt twice, with 2016 being a particularly ruthless and humiliating thrashing. But, I am beginning to understand its terrain and feel its personality. So, this year I will prepare and climb differently, but proceed with great hope and confidence.

Here is my 2017 schedule, fashioned to outwit and subdue the beast:

–February 23-March 1: My three veteran Sherpas, Naga Dorjee Sherpa, Shera Gyalzen Sherpa and Sonam Bhote, will complete a helicopter reconnaissance of Burke-Khang in an effort to find a safe route up the mountain. If they are unable to identify a route that is safe for the Sherpas and me, the expedition will be cancelled. If they identify a safe route…

—March 1: Depart LAX at 22:25 (yes, this time I understand military time)

–March 3: Arrive in Kathmandu

–March 4: Meet with the Ministry of Tourism, brief them on the expedition and secure the permit

–March 5: Fly to Lukla and begin the 50+ mile trek to the mountain. While I am trekking to the mountain, the Sherpa team will fix lines on the mountain up to approximately 50 meters from the summit

–March 6: Arrive in Namche Bazaar

–March 11: Arrive in Gokyo and spend 2 days acclimatizing to the altitude by climbing Gokyo Ri mountain and visiting Renjo La Pass and Gokyo Lake # 5

–March 13: Fly in a helicopter from Gokyo or Gokyo Lake # 5 to Burke-Khang Base Camp at the foot of the mountain

–March 15: Begin the tortuous move up the East Colouir, aka “The Shooting Gallery,” to Camp 1

–March 17: Ascend to Camp 2

–March 19: Ascend to the summit of Burke Khang on my 75th birthday

As usual, I will post written and audio reports documenting the expedition. In the meantime, if you are so inclined, please reassemble the prayer groups and keep the good thoughts and prayers coming. They always sustain me.

Bill Burke

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S. Eliot

“Dreams rooted in the heart are slow to die.” Bill’s Aphorisms.  IMG_6789